What’s Great About Eight

Back in December, a little town in Connecticut faced an unimaginable horror when a man entered an elementary school and began shooting. That night parents across the country hugged their kids a little tighter and lingered in bedroom doorways just a little longer to watch them as they slept. Parents with a child in the same age category as the victims were especially affected by such a shocking and senseless tragedy. I counted myself among those parents; Omelette was 7 at the time. She has since had a birthday and is now the same age as the youngest victim of the bombing in Boston. Again, I found myself thinking, “Dear God! That could have been my child!” I’m not the only one who did.

This week, I came across this post, written by the mother of an 8-year-old girl, which reflects on the person her daughter is and is becoming. Starting with my own 8-year-old, I have decided to write similar posts, one for each of my girls.

So here goes:

Omelette, this year, you are in second grade. You enjoy reading, science, and art. Hearing you read makes your English teacher mother proud, especially when you critique what you are reading and make connections to the world we live in. Just the other day, you read about an inventor who went to a “school for boys,” and you became displeased that the advantage was given to the boys. “Cowboys, cavemen, it’s always boys,” you said, and the feminist critic in me did a little happy dance. Speaking of dance,  your father loves your creative expression. His eyes light up whenever you make up a song or dance, and the artist in him sings a happy tune when you put your heart and soul into a colorful drawing.

You become easily frustrated with math. You haven’t quite mastered your addition and subtraction facts, so your math homework causes you some stress. When faced with this stress, you are prone to shut down. I’m afraid you’re like your mother in that regard. Hang in there. Eventually I got it, and you will, too.

At your young age, you are already learning about friendships and what makes them good and bad. You are fortunate enough to have been at the same school with the same group of friends since kindergarten, so you know who will play with you at recess and who will come to your birthday parties. You have had to deal with spats between friends as well as unwanted attention from those you do not consider friends. I hope you understand why your father and I cannot intervene for you in these situations. We can help you figure out some ways to cope, but life is going to be full of people you like and people you don’t. There will also be people who don’t like you. Learning to handle yourself as you deal with other people is probably the most important lesson you will ever learn.

As you are well aware, your father and I do not live together. You have spent much of your life going from one house to another. There have been changes along the way as both your dad and I have moved and changed jobs. Through all of the change you have seen in your short life, you have handled it well. Some people might try to tell you that you won’t do as well in school or in life because your parents aren’t together. Don’t believe them. Your father and I may have made some mistakes, but those are not yours, and there is no reason you cannot rise above what others think of your particular situation.

You are a beautiful person both inside and out. There are ideas behind those hazel eyes. Ideas that reveal your creative spirit as well as your concern for the environment. You are the biggest proponent of reusing and recycling in our household; you frequently express interest in using something I would throw away for one of your projects. And it was you who chose an environmentalist for a recent presentation in your class when others chose presidents or more well-known historical figures. Your enthusiasm inspired me to use a couple of toilet paper rolls to create a pair of binoculars for your presentation. You wore them with pride.

Your current extracurricular activities include gymnastics and violin. You are not the best in your class in either of these, but you do not allow that to discourage you. Instead, you are proud of your accomplishments. When you master a new song on the violin, you play it for anyone who will hear it. And when you play, you carefully place the violin as your teacher taught, and when you have finished playing, you take a graceful bow. Every day you are improving. This is true in your gymnastics class as well. Your long, lean frame makes it somewhat difficult for you to balance yourself on the beam or position yourself properly on the bar, but you keep at it, enjoying yourself all the while. You may not stick with gymnastics or violin, but I hope you will maintain a positive outlook on whatever new activities you try.

You do not like to clean up after yourself, but who does? We’ll keep working on that. You have also developed a bad habit of talking back to your parental units. While it is important to assert yourself, you must learn when it is appropriate to do so. We’ll work on that, too. Finally, you are not always good about doing what you are told to do or refraining from doing what you have been told not to do. You are still learning what your boundaries are, and though the process is frustrating for both of us, I have no doubt that you will develop a good sense of judgment and be ready to use it when necessary.

With all its ups and downs and ins and outs, my little Omelette, being eight looks pretty great.

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